Monthly Archives: February 2020

February 29, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Comfort Comes from Trusting Christ’s Proclamation

And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (14:4–6)

Since He had already told them that He was returning to the Father (e.g., 7:33; 13:1, 3), Jesus expected the disciples to know the way where He was going. But by this time their minds were so rattled (cf. the discussion of v. 1 above) that they were not sure of anything. Thomas vocalized their perplexity when he said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (cf. Peter’s similar question in 13:36). By now they understood that Jesus was going to die. But their knowledge stopped at death; they had no firsthand experience of what lay beyond the grave. Furthermore, Jesus Himself had told them that at this time they could not go where He was going (13:33, 36). If they did not know where the Lord was going, how could they know the way to get there?

Jesus’ reply, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” is the sixth “I AM” statement in John’s gospel (cf. 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; the seventh comes in 15:1, 5). Jesus alone is the way to God (10:7–9; Acts 4:12) because He alone is the truth (John 1:14, 17; 18:37; Rev. 3:7; 19:11) about God and He alone possesses the life of God (John 1:4; 5:26; 11:25; 1 John 1:1; 5:20). The purpose of this gospel is to make those things known, so they are repeated throughout the book so as to lead people to faith and salvation (20:31).

The Bible teaches that God may be approached exclusively through His only-begotten Son. Jesus alone is the “door of the sheep” (10:7); all others are “thieves and robbers” (v. 8), and it is only the one who “enters through [Him who] will be saved” (v. 9). The way of salvation is a narrow path entered through a small, narrow gate, and few find it (Matt. 7:13–14; cf. Luke 13:24). “There is salvation in no one else,” Peter boldly affirmed, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Thus, it is “he who believes in the Son [who] has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36), and “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11), because “there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

The postmodern belief that there are many paths to religious truth is a satanic lie. F. F. Bruce writes,

He [Jesus] is, in fact, the only way by which men and women may come to the Father; there is no other way. If this seems offensively exclusive, let it be borne in mind that the one who makes this claim is the incarnate Word, the revealer of the Father. If God has no avenue of communication with mankind apart from his Word … mankind has no avenue of approach to God apart from that same Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us in order to supply such an avenue of approach. (The Gospel of John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983], 298)

Jesus alone reveals God (John 1:18; cf. 3:13; 10:30–38; 12:45; 14:9; Col. 1:15, 19; 2:9; Heb. 1:3), and no one who rejects His proclamation of the truth can legitimately claim to know God (John 5:23; 8:42–45; 15:23; Matt. 11:27; 1 John 2:23; 2 John 9). It was because the early Christians taught that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation that Christianity became known as “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).[1]


The Only Way Home

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The exclusive claim of the Lord Jesus Christ to be “the way and the truth and the life” is wrapped up in three phrases. He claims to be the way to God, indeed, the only way; he claims to be the truth about God, himself the truth; and he claims to be spiritual life, not merely the way to life. We would think, as we read that phrase, that it has said all that needs to be said. Yet, as we read the Lord’s own words, we find that immediately after saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life,” he says the whole thing over again in different words, lest we misunderstand it. He says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” If the Lord stated this a second time, lest we misunderstand it, then we should look at it a second time also.

Only through Jesus

Taken together, these phrases mean that Christianity makes an exclusive claim. People sometimes suggest that we are narrow-minded as Christians when we say that Christ is the only way to God, and we have to confess that this is precisely what we are at this point. We are as narrow as the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord said—this is the emphasis of the verse—that he is the only way to God. There is no other way. So while it would be nice for us to equivocate on this point and say, in order to win friends and influence people, that other ways have some value—though we would like to say this, we are nevertheless unable to do so. Rather, we find ourselves affirming with the Lord Jesus Christ and with all the biblical writers that there is no salvation apart from Jesus.

Many verses teach it: 1 Corinthians 3:11—“No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”; Acts 4:12—“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved”; 1 Timothy 2:5—“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

If you are one who is rejecting all this, if you are one who perhaps is interested in Christianity but not exclusively, if you think that perhaps Jesus Christ is a way to God but not the way to God, I want to stress that, according to his teaching, he is the only way and that any attempt to find another way is folly, is bound to produce despair, and is perverse. The tragedy is that apart from the grace of God folly, despair, and perversity characterize each one of us. We are fools because we seek another way. We despair because there is no other way to be found. We are perverse because God has told us that there is only one way. Therefore, in turning from him to try to find another way we dishonor him.

The Fool Has Said

First, there is the folly of trying to find another way. Why is it folly? It is folly because, if a way to God has been provided, it is nonsense to look for another. Who would seek for a second cure for cancer if a perfect cure had been found?

Yet this is the folly of the human heart in spiritual things. Jesus told about it in a parable that concerned a rich man. This man thought the way to life was through material possessions, so he spent a lifetime accumulating worldly goods. He was a farmer. He had produce. His wealth was in the storage of his barn. When the barn became too small for what he was accumulating, he said, “I’ll tear down my old barn and build a bigger one that can hold my possessions.” The Lord’s comment on that man’s life was: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).

It is not the preacher who calls the unbeliever a fool. If that were the case, it would mean little indeed. The unbeliever could simply say to the preacher, “You are the fool for believing as you do.” No, God is the one who calls men fools, fools for refusing to come to him in the way he has provided.

If we explore a bit deeper to find out why this is so, we find that it is because we are determined to provide for ourselves. During World War II, my father served as a doctor in the air force in the southern part of the United States. When he was released from military service he and the family began to drive northward to the family home in western Pennsylvania. It was only a few days before Christmas. So it was no surprise that on the way we ran into an early blizzard in the mountains of Tennessee. The storm got worse and worse and eventually halted our progress. At one point, however, before we had stopped for the night and as we were going uphill in a little mountain area with a dangerous precipice at our right, a car up ahead stopped. My father realized that, if the car ahead stopped, he would have to stop and, if he stopped, he would immediately begin to slide over the precipice. So he grabbed a blanket, jumped out of the car, ran around to the back wheels and stuck the blanket under one of them to stop our descent. We were stopped. But there we were, stranded in the blizzard on the mountainside.

My father was an Irishman, and at this point two things characterized him: first, pride in his achievement and, second, determination to bring off another. He had saved us from going over the precipice. Now he was going to get us up the mountain. So he began to work, shoveling snow and placing boards and blankets under the tires. He worked for about an hour, but without much success. All the time my two sisters and I, my mother, and my aunt were in the car, getting colder and colder. We were very depressed. Suddenly a truck with wonderful traction came by. This truck moved ahead of us and stopped. It was obvious that the driver knew he could get going again. He got out, came back to my father and said, “I have a chain. Would you like me to hitch onto your car and take you up the mountain?”

Do you know what my father said? He said, “No, thanks. We’re doing fine.” And he did do fine! But it was about sixty cold and gloomy minutes later!

God says that we are exactly like this spiritually, except for the fact that it does not matter whether we spend an hour, two hours, a year, or a lifetime. We are never going to get ourselves going up the road to salvation. So Jesus says, “Look, I’ve come to provide the way to salvation. I am the way. Don’t be so foolish that you turn your back on me out of pride.”

No Exit

Second, you are not only foolish, you are also on a trip to despair. If Jesus is right when he says, “I am the way … no one comes to the Father except through me,” then no other way can be found. The Father is the source of all spiritual blessings. The way to the Father is through Jesus. If you are trying to find another way, you are never going to get those spiritual blessings. To go in any other way is to embark upon a road that has no exits and no destination.

Paul spells it out in the Book of Romans, pointing to the different ways men and women try to reach God. There are three categories. First, there is the way of natural theology. This is the way of the man who goes out into the field at night and says, “I am going to commune with God in nature.” It is the man who says, “I worship God on Sunday afternoon in my golf cart.” Paul says that this is a dead end, because you cannot find God in nature. No man has ever found God in nature. You can find things about God in nature, but these condemn you.

Romans says that nature reveals two things about God. It reveals the “Godhead” of God, that is, his existence, and it reveals his “power,” because obviously something or someone of considerable power stands behind what we observe. That is all that can be known of God in nature. So if you think you are going to find God in nature, you are destined to emptiness in your search. You cannot worship an eternal power; you cannot worship a supreme being; you cannot worship a law of nature. Moreover, says Paul, “You don’t even try!” Because when you say to yourself, “I’m going to worship God in nature,” what you are really doing is using nature as an excuse to avoid God. Actually you do not want to be with Christian people, nor do you wish to be under the preaching of the Word. You find it disturbing. What you are really trying to do is to escape from God into nature. If you worship anything at all, it is nature you worship; and the worship of nature is idolatry.

Some years ago, after I had given a message along these lines, a woman said, “I found that to be true in my work with the beach crowd in California.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” she said, “we used to have meetings on the beach, and I used to witness to the surfers. When I would speak to them about God, they would reply that they worshiped God in nature. At first I didn’t know what to say, but after a while I caught on. I learned to ask, ‘And what is God?’ They would reply, ‘My surfboard is my god.’ ” At least that is honest, but it is paganism and idolatry.

Second, there are people who try to find God in the way of human morality. They say, “God certainly likes good men and women; therefore, I’ll be good, and I’ll get to him that way.” Paul says that this line will lead you to despair also. Why? We see the answer when we reason as follows. If God loves good people—and it is true that he does—how good do they have to be? The answer is that they have to be absolutely good, perfect, because God can settle for nothing less. But no one is perfect. So Paul says, “When you start like that, when you start thinking that you are going to please God by getting better and better, you fail to see that even if you could achieve the maximum goodness possible to anyone in this world, you would never get to God in that way because it would not be good enough.

We have a strange situation in the church today. The church has a message to proclaim; it begins with the total depravity of man. But this is offensive to most people. So the church gets cold feet at this point—ministers do, of course—and it backs off from preaching these things. Ministers say, “We admit that the Bible does say that all are sinners; it does say that all are dead in trespasses and sins; but it does not really mean that. It is hyperbole. What it really means is that we just need a little help. People are really pretty good underneath. So if we just appeal to their natural goodness, they’ll come and be Christians. Besides, they’ll join our churches and give us money.”

Does the world congratulate the church for congratulating the world? Not at all! The world knows that this is not true. So you have people like Jean Paul Sartre and other existentialists leaping to their feet to say, “If the church is not going to tell the truth, we are going to tell the truth! We know that when you scratch beneath the veneer of mankind, when you get rid of the social conventions, when you get rid of the desire to be acceptable with other people by matching up to certain preestablished patterns of behavior, what you find beneath the surface is garbage. You find a sewer of corruption.” The existentialist does not have the answer. The despair of the existentialist is proof of what lies at the end of his road. But at least he speaks out; he is not silent.

Then, in Romans 2:17–29, Paul says that there is a third way that people try; it is the way of religion, a sort of formalism. This person says, “If I cannot be righteous, at least I can do things that God likes. I’ll be baptized. I’ll be confirmed. I’ll go to communion.” Paul says that this leads to despair also. Why? Because it is based on a false conception of God. It suggests that God will settle for externals. Does he? No! People may settle for externals, but not God; he looks on the heart. God sees that although you can go through the rite of baptism, it does not mean a thing if your heart is not cleansed. He sees that although you may come to communion, it does not mean a thing unless you have first fed on Jesus Christ by faith and have drunk at that stream that he provides.

An Insult to God

To say that one is a fool for looking in another direction than Christ sounds insulting. To say that it leads to despair sounds grim. But there is worse to come. For seeking a way other than Jesus is not only foolish and leads to despair, it is perverse. It is insulting to God. How is it insulting? It is insulting because Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” So if you go another way, it is not merely that you are doing something for yourself, and it is certainly not the case that you are doing something praiseworthy. What you are really doing is saying to the Lord Jesus Christ, “Lord Jesus Christ, you are a liar!”

Do you think that God is going to be proud of you for trying to find your own way? Do you think that God is going to admire you for that, love you for that, praise you for that? God is going to regard this for what it is, an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, because that is the equivalent of saying, “You, Lord Jesus Christ, you in whom the Father is well pleased, cannot be trusted.”

Furthermore, to seek another way is not only an insult to Christ, it is an insult to the love of God who planned the way of salvation out of his great love for the sinner. What the Lord Jesus Christ did was in fulfillment of the desires of his Father. He said, “I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God” (Heb. 10:7). It was God’s will that Jesus Christ, his Son, should die in your place. So it is an insult to God to ignore it. Do you think that it was easy for God to send Jesus Christ to die for you? I am asking you fathers: Would it be easy for you to give up your son or your daughter, to see that son or daughter killed, in order that someone else might be saved? I ask you mothers: Would it be easy for you to have a son or daughter killed in your sight, to turn your back when you could save that son or daughter, in order to have someone else saved? Of course not! You who are brothers: Would you give up a sister? You who are sisters: Would you give up a brother? If it is not easy for you, why should you think that it would be easy for God? Yet that is what God did for you.

Do you think it was easy for the Lord Jesus Christ to stand with his disciples on the verge of his crucifixion and say, “I am the way”? He knew what it meant to be the way. It meant that he had to go to the cross; he had to die; he had to suffer; he had to have the Father turn his back on him while he was made sin for us; he had to have the wrath of God poured out upon him. That is what it meant when the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way … no one comes to the Father except through me.” Yet he said it.

Come … Come

So I ask: Is it anything but sinful, obstinate perversity for someone to say, “That is all very nice, but I am going to go another way”? To go another way is to condemn yourself to hell! For there is no other way. “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

How foolish it would be, how much despair is involved, how perverse on your part to go away, saying, “Well, that is all very interesting, of course; but I’m going to look a bit farther.” Today is the day of salvation! This may be the last opportunity you will ever have! I cannot promise that you will ever hear the gospel again. I cannot promise that the Holy Spirit will ever speak to your heart again, if he is speaking at this moment. Heed the invitation and come! The Bible says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).[2]


6 Unwittingly, the mundane question by Thomas led to one of the most far-reaching and provocative statements ever made by Jesus. For Thomas, the way to an unknown destination cannot be known. Jesus answers, “I am the way.” Jesus is not one who shows the way but the one who himself is the way. He is the way—the only way—to the Father, for “no one comes to the Father except through [him].” The particularism of Jesus’ teaching has caused many to stumble. The mind-set of secular society regards such exclusive claims as intolerant. Certainly there are other paths that lead to God. Not so! To accept Jesus Christ involves accepting all that he said, even though open support of his claims may cause a bit of embarrassment when brought up in certain circles of contemporary society.

Jesus is the only way to God because he is also “the truth.” Note that each of the three nouns (way, truth, life) is preceded by a definite article. “Truth” and “life” do not modify “way,” as though Jesus were saying, “I am the real and living way” (Moffatt). He is the truth. Ultimate truth is not a series of propositions to be grasped by the intellect but a person to be received and therefore knowable only by means of a personal relationship. Others have made true statements, but only Jesus perfectly embodies truth itself. He is the truth. And he is also “the life.” Eternal life is to know Jesus Christ (17:3; cf. 1 Jn 1:2; 5:20). Apart from him is darkness and death.

Barclay, 2:157, mentions that in this sublime statement Jesus took three of the great basic conceptions of Jewish religion and made the tremendous claim that in him all three found their full realization. The fifteenth-century Augustinian priest Thomas à Kempis (The Imitation of Christ [1441; repr., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983], 208) joined the three as follows: “Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without the life, there is no living.”[3]


6 Jesus now introduces a somewhat different topic. He has been talking about leaving the disciples, and it is with this that Thomas is concerned. But Jesus is to go to the Father (13:3; 16:5, 10, 17), and he now speaks of the way (“way” is emphasized by repetition, vv. 4, 5, 6). He not only shows people the way (i.e., by revealing it), but he is the way (i.e., he redeems us). In this connection “the truth” (see Additional Note D, pp. 259–62) will have saving significance. It will point to Jesus’ utter dependability, but also to the saving truth of the gospel. “The life” (see on 1:4) will likewise take its content from the gospel. Jesus is both life and the source of life to believers. All this is followed by the explicit statement that no one comes to the Father other than through Christ. “Way,” “truth,” and “life” all have relevance,18 the triple expression emphasizing the many-sidedness of the saving work. “Way” speaks of a connection between two persons or things, and here the link between God and sinners. “Truth” reminds us of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that he does and is. And “life” stresses the fact that mere physical existence matters little. The only life worth the name is that which Jesus brings, for he is life itself. Jesus is asserting in strong terms the uniqueness and the sufficiency of his work for sinners. We should not overlook the faith involved both in the utterance and in the acceptance of those words, spoken as they were on the eve of the crucifixion. “I am the Way,” said one who would shortly hang impotent on a cross. “I am the Truth,” when the lies of evil people were about to enjoy a spectacular triumph. “I am the Life,” when within a matter of hours his corpse would be placed in a tomb.[4]


6 Although Thomas speaks for all the disciples, Jesus replies at first “to him” alone: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (v. 6). This is the first “I am” pronouncement since “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25), which it resembles in two ways: first, in that Jesus says it only once, and second, in having more than one predicate (one of which is “the Life”). The dominant predicate here is “the Way.” Jesus could have just said, “I am the Way. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and the dynamic of the exchange would have been the same. “The Truth” and “the Life” simply spell out for his disciples the benefits of the salvation to which “the Way” leads. Jesus has already told Martha explicitly that he was “the Life” (11:25), and he implicitly claimed to be “the Truth” by telling a group of “believing” Jews at the Tent festival that “the truth will set you free” (8:32), and “if the Son sets you free, you will really be free” (8:36, italics added).

The central pronouncement, “I am the Way,” is profoundly significant within the chapter as a whole, for it states in so many words what Bunyan knew, that “the way” is not what Thomas thought it was, a literal route or pathway, but a Person, Jesus himself. The destination, accordingly, is not a place (not even precisely “my Father’s house”), but also a Person, the Father himself: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (italics added). The terms of the whole discussion now begin to change, from talk of a departure, a journey, a “way,” and a destination, to talk of Jesus and the Father. There is profound mutuality in their relationship, for the claim that “No one comes to the Father except through me” stands as a kind of sequel to the principle stated much earlier that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him” (6:44), or “unless it is given him from the Father” (6:65). That is, only the Father can bring anyone to Jesus, and only Jesus can bring anyone to the Father. Those who are quite willing to press the exclusivity of the latter principle—that is, that salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ—are sometimes less willing to acknowledge the exclusivity of the former—that is, that no one comes to Christ without being “drawn” or “given” by the Father to the Son. But both things are true, and therein lies the characteristic exclusivism, even dualism, of the Gospel of John.53 At the same time, the invitation is universal, for the last phrase, “through me,” recalls an earlier pronouncement that accented its positive side: “I am the Door. Through me, if anyone goes in he will be saved, and will go in and go out and find pasture” (10:9). Such is the dialectic of salvation throughout this Gospel.[5]


I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

John 14:4–6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Christians are sometimes dismayed by the world’s opposition to our gospel. For this reason, many Christians emphasize having a nonoffensive attitude toward unbelievers and seek to use expressions that avoid giving offense. So long as we do not compromise our message or biblical standards of behavior, it is proper for believers to show such care in their dealings with non-Christians. Yet as we do this, we will soon find that the gospel’s real offense is one that we cannot easily avoid. Christianity’s true offense is none other than Christ himself. This is especially true when we consider Jesus’ exclusive claims as the one Lord and only Savior of mankind.

One modern critic has spouted contempt for Christianity’s exclusivity in these words: “Christianity is a contentious faith which requires an all-or-nothing commitment to Jesus as the one and only incarnation of the Son of God.” We can endorse this author’s assessment, though not perhaps all that he goes on to say: “[Christians are] uncompromising, ornery, militant, rigorous, imperious and invincibly self-righteous.” This is not a recent opinion of our faith: Philip Ryken asserts that “for the past 2,000 years, Christianity’s claims about the unique truth of Jesus Christ have aroused no end of opposition from Jews, pagans, Muslims, Communists, humanists, and atheists.”2

We might think this opposition to have lessened with the advent of post-modernity, given its emphasis on tolerance. Instead, the opposite has happened. Postmodern unbelievers grant tolerance to every religion except Christianity, precisely because the gospel is seen as the ultimate intolerant creed. The gospel’s message that only Jesus can save offends postmodernity’s relativist mantra, since Christians insist that all other religions are false and any other route to God is a dead end. Objections to these doctrines have marked the world’s hatred for Jesus ever since he spoke the words that John’s Gospel continues to proclaim today: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Uncompromising Exclusivity

This is the sixth of Jesus’ seven famous “I am” sayings, each of which is radically exclusive in setting Jesus apart as the one and only Savior. In each of these statements, Jesus uses the word the rather than a. He is “the bread of life” (John 6:35), not a bread of life: that is, Jesus is the one and only source of satisfaction for the hunger of our souls. Likewise, Jesus is “the light of the world” (8:12), the only guide who can lead mankind out of darkness into the light of God. Jesus said, “I am the door” (10:7), since through him alone we can enter the fold of God, and “I am the good shepherd” (10:11), who alone lays down his life for the sheep. To these, Jesus added the remarkable statement, “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25), claiming to be the Conqueror even of death—a claim that he backed up by raising Lazarus from the grave (11:43–44). Each of these statements is radically exclusive, asserting that none but Jesus can save us from sin, bring us to God, and grant us eternal life.

This same focus on the person of Jesus is seen all through this portion of John’s Gospel, which centers on four questions asked by the disciples, each of which Jesus answered by directing them to himself. Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36). Thomas continued, “How can we know the way?” (14:5). Philip added, “Lord, show us the Father” (14:8), and Judas (not the betrayer) asked, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” (14:22). These are slightly different questions, and each receives a slightly different answer. But each of the answers is a variant on John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

Despite the world’s disdain for John 14:6, the content of this saying tells us why we must not surrender Christ’s exclusive claims, however offensive they may be. For not only is John 14:6 true, but it offers the only real answer to the great needs of the world. Man’s tragic plight is that we are alienated from God, ignorant of truth, and condemned to both physical and spiritual death. Jesus has come as the answer to sin’s dreadful predicament. He is the way for sinners to be reconciled to God, the truth that God has revealed to correct our ignorance, and the life that we need to regenerate us from the power of death.

The Way: Reconciliation

There is an obvious priority to the first of Jesus’ descriptions. While Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, the context focuses on Jesus as the way. We can see this in the dialogue, going back to John 13:33. Jesus informed the disciples that he would soon depart, adding, “Where I am going you cannot come.” This was disturbing to the disciples, so Peter demanded, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward” (13:36). Jesus was referring to his return to the glory of heaven, and perhaps also to the cross that he would bear on the way. But Peter was not settled, insisting that he would follow Jesus even to death (13:37). This statement prompted Jesus’ prophecy of Peter’s three denials that very evening. Then, to comfort the disciples, Jesus told them that he was going to his “Father’s house” to prepare a place for them and that he would return to get them (14:1–3). He concluded in verse 4, “And you know the way to where I am going.” This time it was Thomas who answered: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (14:5). He meant that if one does not know the destination, he cannot know the way there. To clarify his meaning that the disciples’ relationship to himself was the way of which he spoke, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6).

Like Thomas, if we are to understand what Jesus means, we have to know the destination to which he was referring. Verse 6 makes it clear that Jesus is speaking of God the Father and his glorious presence in heaven. That is where Jesus was going, and that is where we are to follow him. But we need also to know where we are. A way is the path between a starting point and an ending point. So, spiritually speaking, where does man start? In what condition does man find himself in his search for God? According to the Bible, mankind is utterly ruined. We are condemned before God for the guilt of our sin. Paul writes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and are thus barred from God’s holy presence and his blessing. Our need is to be reconciled to him.

So bad is our condition that there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God. Even if we should turn a new leaf and begin leading a morally upright life, we still have the guilt of our previous sins to pay for. Moreover, we are not only condemned in sin, but utterly corrupted by sin. Therefore, we are not able to perform an adequate moral reformation. In the light of the Bible’s teaching of God’s unrelenting justice, our past haunts us, our present confounds us, and our future dismays us. For this reason, not only is it true that sinful mankind cannot come to God, but sinful mankind does not even want to come to God. Just as Adam and Eve clothed their shame with fig leaves and fled from God in the garden, we are alienated not only by God’s justice but by our own God-loathing consciences.

We see now where the true offense of Jesus’ gospel lies. Christianity scandalizes because the gospel declares that man’s alienation from God is humanly hopeless because of sin. The gospel says that we could be reconciled only if God sent a Savior to die for our sin. Only Jesus, as God’s sinless Son, could atone for sin through his death. His way of salvation requires us to confess our sin, humble ourselves seeking pardon, and surrender our claims to self-rule: the very acts that sinful mankind refuses to do. Man hates the message that he cannot save himself! Man would come to God, but not by this way! Jesus offers only a salvation from sin, and a world that will not confess its sin takes offense in him and refuses reconciliation with the God who sent him.

Yet it remains good news that Jesus came from heaven to earth in order to reconcile sinners to God. Jesus said that he was returning to his Father’s house, and this makes us wonder why God’s Son departed the glory of heaven to live in our world. The answer is given in all the Gospels, which record Jesus’ explanation for why he came. Luke records: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). In Matthew, Jesus explained: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). John’s Gospel records another of Jesus’ explanations: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Thus, when Jesus said that he is “the way,” he meant that sinners may come to God only through the ministry of reconciliation for which he came. Jesus is the way because God in his grace has provided for sinners to be justified in his sight through faith in his Son. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Paul laments. But the good news is that we may be “justified by [God’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23–24).

Skip Ryan tells of having served on a special project for the United States Department of State. The working group to which he was assigned once held a briefing at the White House. The meeting took place in the Roosevelt Room, a conference room across the hall from the Oval Office. After the meeting, the State Department official in charge asked whether Ryan would like to see the Oval Office, the official working place of the President of the United States, since the President was out of town. Ryan recalls two things about that visit. The first was the awe he felt at being in such a place. The second was that he could not possibly have entered the Oval Office unless he was taken there by someone authorized to bring him.

If that is true of the office of the President of the United States, how much more true is it of the glorious presence of almighty God in heaven? People who would never think to enter the White House simply assume that they will go to heaven after they die. But heaven is far more restricted than any high-security location here on earth. Heaven is guarded by mighty angels armed with swords of divine power (Gen. 3:24). Entry into heaven is governed by the perfect and unyielding justice of God’s holy law. How much more true of heaven are the words that Psalm 24 spoke about God’s temple in Jerusalem:

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

who does not lift up his soul to what is false

and does not swear deceitfully.

He will receive blessing from the Lord

and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Ps. 24:3–5)

To enter heaven and approach God on your own rights requires you to present hands that have never sinned, a heart that has never known impure thoughts, and lips that have never spoken falsely. None, of course, can meet this holy standard. For us, therefore, there must be someone authorized to bring us into heaven, and it was for this that Jesus came: he said, “I am the way” (John 14:6). It is through his perfect life and atoning death that we may “receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Ps. 24:5).

The Truth: Revelation

The second and third statements that Jesus made about himself in John 14:6 are rightly seen as subordinate to the first. Jesus is first the way, and coordinated with this is his claim to be the truth and the life. Some scholars have therefore wanted to translate the verse to read, “I am the true and living way.” But that is not what Jesus said. He said that he is the way, and that he is the truth and the life.

Man needs the revelation of truth because it was through ignorance and lies that we first fell into sin. Our first parents did not merely happen to sin, but they were led into sin by Satan. The Serpent of the garden beguiled Eve by asking, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). God had not said that: they could eat of every tree in the garden except one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (2:16–17). Satan’s lie suggested that God’s commands are not for our good and that the way for mankind to experience freedom and blessing is by breaking God’s commands. This lie has marked the way of sin ever since.

A great part of mankind’s plight in sin is ignorance of God and blindness to God’s truth. Paul explained, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Eph. 4:18). In order for us to be saved, we must therefore be enlightened by the revelation of God’s truth, the fullest expression of which comes through Jesus Christ.

Most specifically, Jesus is the truth “because he embodies the supreme revelation of God—he himself ‘narrates’ God (1:18), says and does exclusively what the Father gives him to say and do,” and is himself one with God the Father as his only begotten Son. Jesus is the way to God not only by what he did for lost mankind, dying on the cross for our sins, but also in revealing the truth of God so that we might believe and come to God through faith in him.

God had been revealing the truth about himself and his salvation before the coming of Christ. But Jesus is the truth in that all that God ever revealed points to Jesus and comes into focus in him. D. A. Carson writes, “The test of whether or not Jews in Jesus’ day, and in John’s day, really knew God through the revelation that had already been disclosed, lay in their response to the supreme revelation from the Father, Jesus Christ himself.” This is why the writer of Hebrews said that God had previously spoken in many ways through the prophets, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1–2). All that God ever revealed comes into clarity, focus, and ultimate truth in the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ.

We must expand this principle beyond the realm of mere religious knowledge, for when Jesus said that he is “the truth,” he spoke of all truth. Even when men and women know things and those things are true, unless this knowledge is held through faith in Christ, it is not known truly. Truth itself is known falsely if opposed to Jesus. It is out of accord with its true purpose and meaning. The great model of this falseness is Satan, who knows many truths but knows none of them truly. “There is no truth in him” (John 8:44), Jesus said about Satan, for despite his great genius and vast knowledge, in his rebellion to God and his Son there is no truth.

This reality explains so much of the darkness and ignorance of our well-educated times. For all of mankind’s increasing knowledge, unless it is held in obedience to him who is the truth, there can be only ignorance, folly, and darkness. Ultimately, as A. W. Pink wrote, “Truth is not found in a system of philosophy, but in a Person—Christ is ‘the truth’: He reveals God and exposes man. In Him are hid ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col. 2:3).”

The obvious application of this teaching is that Christians must therefore be students of Jesus, which means that we must be devoted in study of his Word in the Bible. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Jesus said, “but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” he taught, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). In the light of heaven, Christians will wish they had read their Bibles more frequently and looked at newspapers or the Internet less often. How much more true will this be of unbelieving men and women who neglected him who is the truth and thus entered into eternity unsaved and unforgiven by God.

The Life: Regeneration

Jesus’ third claim is that he is “the life” (John 14:6). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and man in sin has fallen under death’s power and curse. Apart from Christ we are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1–3), unable to do anything spiritually for our salvation, so that life increasingly becomes a living death, without satisfaction or hope. But Jesus came “that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). John said of him at the beginning of his Gospel: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:4).

Jesus is the source of eternal life for those who believe and follow him. It would not have been enough for Jesus as the way to gain our reconciliation with God, tearing down the veil by his death on the cross for our sins. It likewise would not be enough for Christ the truth to grant us a revelation of God. We would yet remain dead, morally corrupt, and spiritually disabled, so that we would never be able to follow in the way that he has made or believe the truth that he has revealed. Jesus made this known to the Pharisee Nicodemus, saying, “Unless one is born again …, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). In order to be saved, we must be not only forgiven but also regenerated. We must be made alive spiritually, so that we believe and are made willing and able to follow after Jesus.

Jesus is the source of the life that we need, and he conveys his power of life through his Word. Thus he called to dead Lazarus, who had been four days in the grave, “Lazarus, come out,” and “the man who had died came out” (John 11:43–44). All who are saved come to Jesus by the power of life in his call through the gospel. And those who come to Jesus as the way of salvation and believe him as the Revealer of God’s truth receive life in him. His is the way of truth that brings life. Jesus said, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (5:24). For “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (3:36).

Only Jesus

Jesus’ answer to Thomas’s question was, according to James Montgomery Boice, “probably the most exclusive statement ever made by anyone.” Jesus’ claims so assume deity that we must either reject Jesus or worship him as Savior and Lord. Just in case we missed his radical claim to be the exclusive and only Savior, Jesus added, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Little wonder that this Jesus has aroused such opposition and hatred from the world. How bold were these words on the eve of the cross! Leon Morris comments: “ ‘I am the Way,’ said one who would shortly hang impotent on a cross. ‘I am the Truth,’ when the lies of evil people were about to enjoy a spectacular triumph. ‘I am the Life,’ when within a matter of hours his corpse would be placed in a tomb.” How could Jesus speak so boldly when he knew what was about to happen? The answer is that Jesus also knew that he would rise from the grave, that his truth would be proclaimed with power across the world, so that multitudes who believed and followed—in the earliest times they were called followers of “the Way” (Acts 19:9, 23)—would be reconciled to God and enter into glory with him. As the bearer of resurrection life, Jesus can give eternal life to those under death’s power. As the incarnate truth, Jesus can reveal the truth amid the errors and lies of the world. And as the only way to the Father, Jesus has the right to demand our faith and exclusive devotion, as our only Savior and Lord. No wonder the apostle Paul stated of salvation that “no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). For as Peter declared, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Since only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, he calls us to faith in himself. Notice that when Thomas asked the way to the Father, Jesus did not hand him directions, or point out a path of good works or spiritual achievements that must be followed. He directed Thomas, and us, to himself. “I am,” he declared, and we are not saved by following a way, believing a truth, or seeking after life. We are saved by Jesus, and he is the way, the truth, and the life. We therefore do not need to discover or make a way for ourselves, but we need to trust in Jesus and follow him. We do not need to master all truth, but we need to know Jesus and then grow in his truth. We do not need to achieve the life that we desire, but we need to receive Jesus and the life that he gives.

The question may be asked what kind of life we will have if we simply trust in Jesus. The answer is that as he is the way, he will lead us to the Father and we will gain a life of love as dear children. As Jesus is the truth, he will teach us the wisdom of salvation so that our lives are freed from the darkness of ignorance and folly. As he is the life, he will grant us entry into the courts of heaven and we will know an increasing measure of life as we draw nearer to him. Apart from Jesus, the world offers many things, but they are all godless, darkened, and deadly. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” Jesus said (John 14:6). He presents himself to us, demanding no achievements, not waiting for our improvement, but calling us simply to receive him in trusting faith, and ready to give to us by grace all that he has and all that he is. We will never receive a better offer, and we will never have a better time to receive Jesus than now.[6]


6. Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.

This is another of the seven great I AM’s of John’s Gospel (for the others see on 6:48; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11; 11:25; and 15:1). In the predicate each of the words way, truth, and life is preceded by the definite article.

“I am the way.” Jesus does not merely show the way; he is himself the way. It is true that he teaches the way (Mark 12:14; Luke 20:21), guides us in the way (Luke 1:79), and has dedicated for us a new and living way (Heb. 10:20); but all this is possible only because he is himself the way.

Christ is God. Now God is equal to each of his attributes, whereas he “possesses” each attribute in an infinite degree. Hence, not only does God have love (or exercise love), but he is love, nothing but love; he is righteousness, nothing but righteousness, etc. So also Christ is the way: in every act, word, and attitude he is the Mediator between God and his elect.

Notice also the pronoun I. In the last analysis we are not saved by a principle or by a force but by a person. In the school the pupil is educated not primarily by blackboards, books, and maps, but by the teacher who makes use of all these means. In the home he is brought up by father and mother. So also the means of access to the Father is Christ himself. We are persons. The God from whom we have been estranged is a personal God. Hence, it is not strange that apart from living fellowship with the person, Jesus Christ, who exists in indissoluble union with the Father, there is no salvation for us (cf. Rom. 5:1, 2).

Now Jesus is the way in a twofold sense (cf. also on 10:1, 7, 9). He is the way from God to man—all divine blessings come down from the Father through the Son (Matt. 11:27, 28); he is also the way from man to God. As already indicated, in the present context the emphasis falls on the latter idea.

“I am … the truth.”

Much of what has been said in connection with “I am the way” applies here also. Jesus is the very embodiment of the truth. He is the truth in person. As such he is the final reality in contrast with the shadows which preceded him (see on 1:14, 17). But in the present context the term the truth seems to have a different shade of meaning. It is that which stands over against the lie. Jesus is the truth because he is the dependable source of redemptive revelation. That this is the sense in which the word is used is clear from verse 7 which teaches that Christ reveals the Father. Cf. Matt. 11:27.

But just as the way is a living way, so also the truth is living truth. It is active. It takes hold of us and influences us powerfully. It sanctifies us, guides us, and sets us free (8:32; cf. 17:17). Basically, not it but he is the truth, he himself in person. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (18:38). Jesus here in 14:6 answers, “I am the truth.”

“I am … the life.”

Jesus is not referring here to the breath or spirit (πνεῦμα) which animates our body. He is not thinking of the soul (ψυχή) nor of life as outwardly manifested (βίος), but of life as opposed to death (ζωή). All God’s glorious attributes dwell in the Son of God (see on 1:4). And because he has the life within himself (see on 5:26), he is the source and giver of life for his own (see on 3:16; 6:33; 10:28; 11:25). He has the light of life (8:12), the words of life (6:68), and he came that we might have life and abundance (10:10). Just as death spells separation from God, so life implies communion with him (17:3).

All three concepts are active and dynamic. The way brings to God; the truth makes men free; the life produces fellowship.

How are these three related? As more or less separate, wholly coordinate entities? Or, as forming a single concept: “the true and living way”? It is not necessary to choose either of these alternatives. Truth and life are nouns, not adjectives. Christ is the truth and the life, just as well as he is the way. Nevertheless, the context indicates that the idea of the way predominates. The meaning appears to be: “I am the way because I am the truth and the life.” When Jesus reveals God’s redemptive truth which sets men free from the enslaving power of sin, and when he imparts the seed of life, which produces fellowship with the Father, then and thereby he, as the way (which they themselves, by sovereign grace, have chosen), has brought them to the Father. Hence, Jesus continues: No one comes to the Father but by me.

Since men are absolutely dependent upon Christ for their knowledge of redemptive truth and also for the spark that causes that truth to live in their souls (and their souls to become alive to that truth), it follows that no one comes to the Father but through him. With Christ removed there can be no redemptive truth, no everlasting life; hence, no way to the Father. Cf. Acts 4:12. Both the absoluteness of the Christian religion and the urgent necessity of Christian Missions is clearly indicated.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 102–103). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1081–1086). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 561). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 569–570). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Michaels, J. R. (2010). The Gospel of John (pp. 774–775). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[6] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 2, pp. 202–211). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 2, pp. 267–269). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

February 29 Streams in the Desert

Launch out into the deep.” (Luke 5:4.)

HOW deep He does not say. The depth into which we launch will depend upon how perfectly we have given up the shore, and the greatness of our need, and the apprehension of our possibilities. The fish were to be found in the deep, not in the shallow water.

So with us; our needs are to be met in the deep things of God. We are to launch out into the deep of God’s Word, which the Spirit can open up to us in such crystal fathomless meaning that the same words we have accepted in times past will have an ocean meaning in them, which renders their first meaning to us very shallow.

Into the deep of the Atonement, until Christ’s precious blood is so illuminated by the Spirit that it becomes an omnipotent balm, and food and medicine for the soul and body.

Into the deep of the Father’s will, until we apprehend it in its infinite minuteness and goodness, and its far-sweeping provision and care for us.

Into the deep of the Holy Spirit, until He becomes a bright, dazzling, sweet, fathomless summer sea, in which we bathe and bask and breathe, and lose ourselves and our sorrows in the calmness and peace of His everlasting presence.

Into the deep of the Holy Spirit, until He becomes a bright, marvelous answer to prayer, the most careful and tender guidance, the most thoughtful anticipation of our needs, the most accurate and supernatural shaping of our events.

Into the deep of God’s purposes and coming kingdom, until the Lord’s coming and His millennial reign are opened up to us; and beyond these the bright entrancing ages on ages unfold themselves, until the mental eye is dazed with light, and the heart flutters with inexpressible anticipations of its joy with Jesus and the glory to be revealed.

Into all these things, Jesus bids us launch. He made us and He made the deep, and to its fathomless depths He has fitted our longings and capabilities.—Soul Food.

“Its streams the whole creation reach,

So plenteous is the store;

Enough for all, enough for each;

Enough forevermore.”

The deep waters of the Holy Spirit are always accessible, because they are always proceeding. Will you not this day claim afresh to be immersed and drenched in these waters of life? The waters in Ezekiel’s vision first of all oozed from under the doors of the temple. Then the man with the measuring line measured and found the waters to the ankles. Still further measurement, and they were waters to the knees. Once again they were measured and the waters were to the loins. Then they became waters to swim in—a river that could not be passed over. (Read Ezekiel 47.) How far have we advanced into this river of life? The Holy Spirit would have a complete self effacement. Not merely ankle-deep, knee-deep, loin-deep, but self-deep. We ourselves hidden out of sight and bathed in this life-giving stream. Let go the shore-lines and launch out into the deep. Never forget, the Man with the measuring line is with us today.—J. G. M.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 67–68). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

February 29, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Initiation of Spiritual Privileges

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, (2:4)

It is by coming to Christ that believers enter the realm of spiritual privilege. Jesus Himself, with Peter and the other apostles as eyewitnesses, called people to abandon the turmoil of their sin and come to Him in faith and experience true soul rest. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). The once troubled soul is at peace. In John 6:35 He told the multitude, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (cf. vv. 37, 44, 65; 7:37–38). The apostle Paul affirmed to the Ephesians that in Christ alone are all spiritual blessings found: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3; cf. vv. 4–14).

The compound verb coming (proserchomenoi), however, conveys more than a mere drawing close to Christ for salvation. The preposition pros is a prefix to the normal verb erchomai and adds intensity, denoting a drawing near to Christ in intimate, abiding, personal fellowship. The writer of Hebrews uses this same term a number of times to denote a conscious coming into God’s presence with the intent to remain (4:16; 7:25; 10:22). For Peter, the word implied the movement of the entire inner person into the experience of intimate and ongoing communion with Jesus Christ.

Peter then used the metaphor of a living stone to identify the One to whom believers come—Jesus Christ—and to launch his discussion of spiritual privilege. Stone (lithos) sometimes refers to a carved precious stone, but usually it means “building stone.” The Old Testament designates God as the only rock (Deut. 32:3–4, 31), the foundation and strength of His people. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the rock (2:8; 1 Cor. 10:4) and the stone on which the church rests. Here Peter’s image is of a stone that was perfectly designed, shaped, and hewn out to become the cornerstone of the church, not merely a stone but a living stone. That living stone is Christ because He lives forever, having risen from the dead (Rom. 6:9). Not only is He alive, but He also gives life to all who trust in Him (cf. 1:3, 23; John 5:21, 25; 6:51–53; 1 Cor. 15:45; Col. 2:13; 1 John 4:9; 5:11–13). The absence of a definite article before living stone emphasizes the living quality and divine character of Jesus Christ.

Even though Christ is the source of all spiritual privileges, He has been rejected by men. That phrase primarily refers to the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people who followed them in demanding Christ’s crucifixion. But Peter’s words also encompass everyone who has rejected Christ since that time. Has been rejected (apodedokimasmenon) means “rejected having been examined or tested.” Because the Jewish leaders were looking for the Messiah, when Jesus claimed to be the Christ (Matt. 26:63–64; John 1:49–51; 4:25–26; cf. Matt. 16:13–20; Luke 4:14–21) they examined His claim. Based on their blind hearts and false standards (Matt. 12:2, 10, 38; 15:1–2; 16:1; Mark 12:13–34; John 8:12–27), they concluded that He did not measure up, so they rejected Him (John 19:7, 12, 15; cf. 7:41–52; 12:37–38). Contempt and hatred characterized their rejection (Matt. 26:57–68; 27:20–25, 39–43; Mark 12:12; Luke 6:11; 13:14; John 8:59; 10:31, 39; cf. Luke 4:28–30); it was unthinkable to them that Jesus could possibly be the cornerstone of God’s kingdom (cf. Ps. 118:22). They viewed Him as one who foolishly denounced their religious system (cf. Matt. 23:1–36; Mark 8:13–21), was too weak and humble to overthrow the occupying Romans and secure the Jews’ national freedom, and was willing to die ignominiously on a cross (Matt. 17:22–23; 20:17–19; Mark 9:30–32; Luke 18:31–34). He simply did not measure up to any of the Jewish establishment’s expectations.

Even though unbelievers have rejected Jesus Christ, He is choice and precious in the sight of God. The Father measured Him by the standards of divine perfection and declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). God elected and ordained Christ (Deut. 18:15–16; Isa. 42:1; Jer. 23:5–6; Mic. 5:2; Acts 2:23; Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 3:1–2; 5:4–5; cf. Gen. 3:15; Num. 24:17; Ps. 45:6–7), as Peter’s use of choice (eklekton) indicates. God also considered Jesus precious (entimon), which means “costly, highly prized, rare” (cf. 1:19; Ps. 45:2), the perfect, living cornerstone (Isa. 28:16; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20).

One of the major themes of Peter’s preaching in the book of Acts is God’s attestation of Christ’s perfection. In Acts 2:22, he identified Him this way: “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst.” Later in Acts he made these declarations: “This Jesus God raised up again” (2:32; cf. 4:10; 5:30); “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone” (4:11). As a trustworthy eyewitness, Peter was convinced of Christ’s extraordinary status: “You know of Jesus of Nazareth,” he told those gathered in Cornelius’s house, “how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem” (10:38–39). It is to that unique living stone that everyone must go to receive the spiritual privileges that accompany salvation (cf. Matt. 11:28; John 1:12; 2 Cor. 5:17).[1]


4  Now the metaphor shifts from that of nourishment to that of security and honor. Using a phrase that likely comes from Ps. 34:5 (“Come to him” in the LXX, using a construction not found in the NT) Peter notes that their conversion was a coming to Christ (so also Matt. 5:1; 18:1; 23:3; Heb. 4:16; 7:25). Christ is a “living stone.” This both introduces the stone imagery that will dominate the next five verses and designates Christ not as a monument or dead principle, but as the living, resurrected, and therefore life-giving one.

Two things are said about the stone. First, people rejected him. Ps. 118:22, which will be quoted in v. 7, is already in mind. This theme, which came from the oral tradition of Jesus’ sayings (Mark 12:10), also appears in Acts 4:11. The term “rejected” implies examination by builders and then casting aside as a reject, unfit for the future building of the nation.  With that the readers can surely identify, for they were feeling the rejection of their fellow-citizens as well.

Second, this human valuation was set aside by God, who did not simply approve Jesus as a stone in the building, but valued him “a select, precious stone.” This is an allusion to Isa. 28:16, which will be quoted in v. 6, here interpreted from the Septuagint as a cornerstone. In Judaism the Targum interpreted the stone in Isa. 28 as referring to the King or the Messiah,  although in Qumran the image was referred to the community: “It [the Council of the Community] shall be that … precious cornerstone, whose foundations shall neither rock nor sway in their place” (1QS 8:7; cf. 1QS 5:5; 4QpIsad 1; 1QH 6:26; 7:8–9). In 1 Pet. 2:4 the messianic interpretation found in Mark is in focus, although the community will appear in the next verse. But the foundation, the cornerstone of the temple of God is Jesus, who, far from being rejected, is a choice or select stone, a precious or valuable stone, even if the world does not yet share that valuation.  This is the one to whom they have come and whose dual fate they share.[2]


2:4 / The shift to stone from the figure of “milk” (v. 2) is unexpected and seemingly without reason. But for a Jewish reader there is a natural succession of ideas in this passage—not milk: stone, but the Hebraic one of babes: house. A helpful illustration is in Genesis 16:2. Sarai gives her maidservant Hagar to Abram in the hope that “I shall obtain children by her” (rsv). The Hebrew is literally “that I may be built through her.” To obtain children is to become a house (as in “house of David”); to become a house is to be built. So Peter’s juxtaposition of the themes of birth and building is genuinely Hebraic, and the subsequent reference to “living stones” (v. 5) a perfectly natural one in Jewish thought.

The wording of Psalm 34 may still be in Peter’s mind when he continues, As you come (proserchomai) to him, for Psalm 34:5 (in the lxx, which nt writers normally use) reads “Come (proserchomai) to him and be enlightened,” the last term also being echoed by Peter in verse 9, “his wonderful light.” That aside, the Greek verb is highly appropriate, for it is the one used of approaching God in worship or in priestly service (Heb. 4:16; 7:25; 10:1, etc.), to which subject Peter is about to refer (v. 5).

The living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God introduces the theme of these verses: the “stone,” as relating to Christ, and to those who accept him, and to those who reject him.

All three Synoptic Gospels record that Jesus applied Psalm 118:22 to himself: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone” (Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17). Peter quotes the Psalmist’s words in Acts 4:11, as well as here and in verse 7. A second christological application of the stone theme is based on the foundational cornerstone of Isaiah 28:16, cited by Peter in verse 6; it recurs in Paul (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20; cf. Rom. 10:11). A third application is made on the basis of Isaiah 8:14, quoted by Peter in verse 8 (and also found in Paul, in Rom. 9:33), and concerns those who reject God’s choice and so find that the Stone is to them one that “causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

To term Christ a stone that is living, and to go on to use similar language of his followers (v. 5), is a startling paradox, for a stone is anything but alive. Yet the symbolism is perfectly understandable in the light of Christ’s resurrection and the life-giving power that flows from it (1:3). Christ was rejected by men, a reaction foretold long ago (Ps. 118:22); however, the last word was not a human verdict but in accordance with the divine will and purpose. Christ the living Stone was chosen by God and precious to him, again as foretold (Isa. 28:16). Whatever the appearance to the contrary at a particular time, the clear implication for Christians facing an antagonistic world is that their God is calmly and surely in complete control of every situation. He has foreseen it all and prepared for it. Ultimately his perfect will is going to prevail, and that good and loving will is the believers’ confidence for a future that also includes God’s purpose for them.[3]


2:4 As you come to him. “Come” is present tense, and so is “are being built” in 2:5. This gives the sense of ongoing activity. In other words, it is not primarily about conversion but about the constant drawing nearer to God that happens as a part of the sanctification process. When we crave God (2:2), we are drawn closer and closer to him.

the living Stone. Peter moves from a metaphor about babies (2:1–3) to one about buildings. The connection seems to be in the Hebrew idea that to have children is to build one’s house (see, e.g., 2 Sam. 7). The same thought pattern is in Ephesians 2:18–22, where the concepts of God’s fatherhood, household, temple, and cornerstone are all present. If God has children, then he has a house. If God’s children are growing, then God’s house is growing. The notion of Jesus as the living Stone probably arises from Psalm 118, quoted in 2:7 and alluded to in the phrase “rejected by humans” in this verse. The rejection of the stone stands for Christ’s death, and God making Christ the cornerstone happened when God raised him from the dead, something Psalm 118:17–18 predicts. Hence Jesus is the living Stone, and those who trust in him receive life and become themselves “living stones” (2:5).[4]


Chosen

4. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him.

Some scholars are of the opinion that in this verse Peter again alludes to Psalm 34, as he did in the preceding verse (v. 3). The Septuagint has this reading: “Come to him and be enlightened” (Ps. 34:5 [33:6 LXX]).13 The words to him obviously refer to Jesus, whom Peter mentions in verse 3. Moreover, the act of coming to Jesus is an act of faith that occurs not once but continuously.

The phrase the living Stone appears to be a paradox: a stone has no life. Yet in Scripture the term stone sometimes has a figurative meaning (Ps. 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10–11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33). Peter himself used this imagery when he addressed the Sanhedrin and portrayed Jesus Christ as “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone” (Acts 4:11; Ps. 118:22).

Especially when Peter qualifies the word stone with the descriptive adjective living, he is no longer speaking of a stone but of a person. Notice first that Peter is not using his own name Petros/petra (rock, Matt. 16:18) as a play on words. The word is “stone,” not “rock.” Next, when Jesus asked the disciples to identify him, Peter confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). During his ministry, Jesus taught the Samaritan woman about living water (John 4:10–11; also see 7:38) and living bread (John 6:51). Third, the adjective living (see 1:3, 23; 2:5) not only shows that the stone lives, but also describes Christ, the giver of life. The image of a stone is furthermore a reminder of God’s judgment. Even though Christ is a firm foundation for anyone who puts his faith in him, he is a crushing stone to those who reject him.

Before Peter continues with the rest of the sentence, he presents an interpretive comment with a built-in contrast. He says that the living Stone has been “rejected by men but chosen by God and [is] precious to him.” The contrast is in the verbs rejected and chosen and in the nouns men and God. Peter contrasts unbelieving people who have rejected Jesus, and continue to do so, with God for whom Jesus is elect and precious. Peter repeats the theme of election, for he calls the recipients of his epistle “God’s elect” (1:1) and “a chosen people” (2:9). Also, to his sermons recorded by Luke in Acts, Peter repeats the theme that Jesus is rejected by men but chosen by God (Acts 2:22–36; 3:13–15; 4:10–11; 10:39–42). “The factor of election might well be seen as permeating and determining of the thought of I P[eter] as a whole.” Conclusively, with Jesus the believers share in God’s electing love.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 104–106). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Davids, P. H. (1990). The First Epistle of Peter (pp. 85–86). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 60–61). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Samra, J. (2016). James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 130). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 84–85). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Give to the Winds | The Thirsty Theologian

Give to the Winds Thy Fears
ST. BRIDE

Give to the winds thy fears,
hope and be undismayed;
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears the way;
wait thou His time, so shall this night
soon end in joyous day.

Still heavy is thy heart,
still sink thy spirits down?
Cast off the weight, let fear depart,
and ev’ry care be gone.

What though thou rulest not,
yet heav’n, and earth, and hell
proclaim, God sitteth on the throne,
and ruleth all things well.

Leave to His sov’reign sway
to choose and to command.
so shalt thou wond’ring own His way,
how wise, how strong His hand!

Far, far above thy thought
His counsel shall appear,
when fully He the work hath wrought,
that caused thy needless fear.

Thou seest our weakness, Lord,
our hearts are known to Thee;
O lift Thou up the sinking heart,
confirm the feeble knee.

Let us in life, in death,
Thy steadfast truth declare,
and publish with our latest breath
Thy love and guardian care.

Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017).

The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

Source: In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Give to the Winds

Forgiveness – The Hardest Love of All | Glory to God for All Things

I cannot think that any of my readers is a stranger to forgiveness, either the need to be forgiven or the need to forgive. The need to forgive, according to the commandment of Christ, extends well beyond those who ask for our forgiveness: we are commanded to forgive our enemies – whom I presume would rarely want to ask for our forgiveness.

Of course, our experience of those who are truly enemies is that we do not want to forgive them. We do not trust them; the wound has been too deep; their offense is not against us but against someone we love who is particularly vulnerable. I could enlarge the list but we are all too familiar with it. The reasons we find it hard to forgive our enemies is endless.

But the commandment remains – not as a counsel of how to live a healthier, happier life – but with the added reminder that we will only find forgiveness as we forgive. Forgiveness is not optional – but a fundamental spiritual action which we must learn to use as though our salvation depended upon it – for it does.

Several times in Scripture forgiveness of others (including enemies) is linked with our becoming like God, being conformed to His image. Thus when I think of forgiveness I think as well of the whole life of salvation – for the path to being restored to the fullness of the image of Christ runs directly through the forgiveness of our enemies. It may indeed be the very key to our salvation (as it is worked out in us) and its most accurate measure.

Having said that, however, is also to say that this commandment to forgive is not of man – we do not have it in us to fullfill this commandment in and of ourselves. St. Gregory of Nyssa once said that “man is mud whom God has commanded to become God.” Of course it is utterly and completely impossible for mud to do such a thing (unless God make it so).

Grace is the foundation of forgiveness. We pray for forgiveness to enter our heart. We beg for forgiveness to enter our heart. We importune God for forgiveness to enter our heart.

Even as a product of grace – we do not begin with the hardest things but with the easiest. We do not begin fasting by tackling the most strict regimen. We do not begin prayer with an effort to pray continually for forty days (or some other great feat). Such efforts would either crush us with their difficulty or crush us with our success.

These are a few thoughts on beginning the life of forgiveness:

1. Begin by struggling to form the habit of forgiveness in the smallest things. With a child, with traffic, with little irritations. Do not struggle in a small way but throw yourself into forgiveness. It should become a habit, but a habit of grace, a large action.

2. Use this prayer for the enemies who seem to be beyond your ability to pray: “O God, at the dread judgment, do not condemn them for my sake.” This places forgiveness at a distance and even a hard heart can often manage the small prayer of forgiveness at such a distance.

3. Be always aware of your own failings and constantly ask for God’s forgiveness. “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

4. As much as possible cultivate in your heart the understanding that all human beings are broken and victims of the fall. None of us enters a world of purity, nor do we enter the world fully fuctional as a human being. It is the gradual cultivation of mercy in our heart. Many will complain that our culture already has a “cult of victimization” in which no one takes responsibility for their actions. The same people will imagine that the world would be better if only everyone took more responsibility. But they themselves will not take on the responsibility that belong to us all. As Dostoevsky says, “Each man is responsible for everything before everyone.” Thus the complaint comes out of our pride. We think we ourselves are not responsible for the state of the world as it is and that if only others were as good as we were the world would be better. This is a lie.

5. The proper response to taking such responsibility is to pray and ask forgiveness. Feeling guilty is generally another self-centered action and is not the same thing as asking forgiveness.

6. Make a life confession at least once a year – being careful to name as many resentments as you can remember (this last advice comes from Met. Jonah Paffhausen).

“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:27-38).

Source: Forgiveness – The Hardest Love of All

Why Are Christians So Mean? | Gary Thomas

Dallas Willard was once asked, “Why are Christians so mean?”

His answer was up to the task. He said that Christians are mean in proportion to when they value being “right” over being “like Christ.”

It’s not enough to simply believe correct doctrine; as God’s chosen people, we are asked to behave a certain way, particularly as it relates to others: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col. 3:12-14).

The book of Romans also sets up a high standard for believers, telling us to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (12:10), “never be wise in your own sight” (12:16) and keep in mind that “love does no harm to its neighbor” (13:10).  No harm. To anyone. So, in our relations with anyone we are to be devoted to their overall welfare, to not be overly confident in our opinion, and to never do anyone any harm. There’s no room here for any “Bible believing” Christian to be mean.

What a different world this would be if, indeed, we were “devoted” to everyone’s welfare, if we were humble in our own opinions, and committed to not do anyone harm—no gossip, no mean-spirited denunciation, no slander. Doesn’t that sound like a nice world to live in?

The new life of believers envisioned by Paul in Colossians 3 basically prohibits three things: sexual immorality, greed, and being mean. Sexual immorality is denounced in many ways and greed with one word: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed…” (v. 5)

This denunciation of sexual misconduct is perhaps what the modern church is known for. But in Paul’s way of thinking, we should also be known for not being mean. Being mean is denounced as extensively and vigorously as sexual sin: “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (v. 8).

Put all this together, and Christians aren’t to be involved in any form of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or sexual immorality of any kind, but we are also to shun any aspect of being “mean”: domestic violence, emotional abuse, bosses mistreating subordinates, bullying or ridiculing gays, violent rioting, and social media trolling. Just as the #metoo movement is challenging the notion that “authority” gives someone the right to be predatory, so the Bible teaches us that “right theology” doesn’t give us the right to mistreat others even when we think we are in the “right” and they are in the wrong.

Consider the life Paul calls us to in 1 Corinthians 13, a life of love. Love is patient when others mess up. Love is kind. Love isn’t rude or easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects. There’s no attack in love.

If you are arrogant, harsh, impatient, unkind, and judgmental instead of compassionate, patient and gentle, you are not acting as one of “God’s chosen people” regardless of how many graduate degrees you have, how many Bible verses you know, how many books you have published, how big your church, organization, or social media impact is or even how well you control yourself sexually. It doesn’t even matter if you are “right” on the issue if you are acting in a wrong manner. You’re adding to the overall problem rather than being part of the solution.

One of the greatest temptations to be mean, of course, is when we catch someone else in a sin. We’ve all read of the Pharisees who caught a woman in the act of adultery (obviously and discriminatorily letting the man go!) and demanded she be publicly shamed, which Jesus refused to do. The Pharisees were right in thinking adultery is wrong; they were wrong in that they were acting in a mean instead of a redemptive way. This mob mentality currently has the Internet on its side, so public shaming can now be national and even international.

Anger over a sin is appropriate. A group of believers saying “Enough is enough, this kind of behavior can’t be tolerated anymore” is doing the Lord’s work. That’s what societal change is all about! God hates sin, and so should we. There’s a time and place to repudiate evil acts. But the way we talk about individual sinners, especially when we don’t know the full story, is the portal to us being lured into sin by adopting a mean-spirited response to sin.

There’s a fascinating reality about the way Jesus touched lepers. People were astonished that he could touch them without becoming leprous himself. Can we touch hateful people without becoming hate-filled? Can we stand against abuse without becoming abusive? We never feel more justified doing evil than when we are self-righteously confronting evil. Remember, it’s not just about being “right.” It’s about responding like Christ.

There is a group of people I would love to work with, support, and publicize because I believe in their cause. But their bullying behavior makes it impossible for me to join them. They carry the right message—a minority message, unfortunately, that needs to be heard—but simply changing who you bully doesn’t mean you’re not a bully, and I can’t join that. Methods matter.

This aversion to the growing meanness I see all around me (from both liberals and conservatives) explains why, if you look through my Twitter and Facebook feed, I doubt you’ll find me denouncing a single person (I’m leaving a tiny door open in case I’ve forgotten something from years ago). For starters, I usually don’t know the people I’m called to denounce and I don’t know the facts. And secondly, the people I do know who are caught in a sin I will treat according to Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.

Arrogance moves us to want to be heard rather than to be helpful. Pride makes us want to feel like we are on the “right side” while humility wants us to serve as God’s voice of healing to those who are on the wrong side. Self-righteousness gathers around common hatred and judgement of the fallen; grace gathers sinners together around the foot of the cross. Does what I say publically or privately help bring someone back, or does it push them further down? I’m grateful that God has and still does win me over with the kindness that leads me to repentance (Romans 2:4) and figure I should have the same attitude toward others.

What holds me back from commenting about individuals on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog is the awareness that I may be wrong. I may not have all the facts. When I don’t know the particular individual or situation or wasn’t there, I’m more likely to be wrong than right. And my uninformed opinion really shouldn’t matter to anyone, least of all myself.

This isn’t to challenge the courage of someone like Rachel Denhollander whose courageous speaking up finally brought an end to gross, evil abuse. Her testimony wasn’t mean—it was necessary and beautiful. I understand the concern some have that “silence is complicity” and if speaking up stops evil rather than just piles onto the evildoer, it’s a holy charge. The challenge today is that, with social media awareness, if I denounced every evil act in politics and the church, that’s all I’d be doing. And why some people get singled out and others don’t is a mystery to me.

John the Baptist righteously called out Herod. But he’s not writing this blog and you usually won’t find such a message here. You won’t find me addressing the “scandal of the week” as it pertains to Christian leaders or politicians. This blog will urge each of us to individually examine our own hearts. 

Remember: the same Bible that discounts sexual immorality also discounts meanness. Let’s be consistent. No hateful speech toward anyone, Christian or non-Christian, the “pure” or the fallen. Challenge misbehavior, but realize that God specializes in redeeming people who have misbehaved.

The people of God are to be different, in every way. Not just in our sexuality, but in our speech, in our temperament and manner, and in our love of grace and mercy. Let us be truly devoted to each other’s welfare, not overly wise in our own sight, and committed to doing no harm to anyone.

Let’s be different. Let’s not be mean.

[Note: I owe a big debt to a fellow writer/blogger who graciously gave much time to help me hone this message. I don’t want to mention her name because I’m not entirely sure she fully agrees with everything I say here and thus don’t want to embarrass her, but S., before God, thank you for being such a precious sister in Christ and courageous leader in God’s church.]

Source: Why Are Christians So Mean?

“Momentous Day”: US, Taliban Sign Peace Deal To End 18 Year War | ZeroHedge News

A peace deal between the United States and its once sworn enemy the Taliban has been sealed in twin ceremonies, in which the US has agreed to wind down the war in Afghanistan after more than 18 years of fighting that turned into the longest conflict in American history, and to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan.

In the historic signing ceremony with the top US diplomat and the Taliban’s second highest-ranking leader, the U.S. and the militant group agreed to begin to end America’s longest war. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met a Taliban delegation during a historic moment which they shared a stage in Qatar’s capital Doha. Pompeo, who called it “a momentous day”, gave a list of pointers to the Taliban to follow to ensure success.

Included in the deal are the following key clauses:

  • Complete withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan in 14 months
  • Afghan govt to engage with United Nation Security Council to remove Taliban members from sanctions list by 29 May
  • US to reduce troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days of – contingent on the Taliban’s fulfilment of its commitments under the agreement
  • US to refrain from use of force against territorial integrity of Afghanistan.
  • US will not intervene in Afghanistan’s domestic affairs
  • US commits to seek annual funds to train, advice, equip Afghan security forces

The deal – signed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar – agrees to the complete withdrawal of US and NATO troops within 14 months, contingent on Taliban following through with its own side of the deal. The US has also agreed to refrain from the use of force against Afghanistan or intervening in its domestic affairs. It has also committed to seeking annual funds to train, advise and equip Afghan security forces.

Mike Pompeo meets Taliban representatives in Doha to sign the agreement

The agreement allows the US to immediately begin withdrawing some of its roughly 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, fulfilling a key campaign promise of President Donald Trump to start getting the U.S. out of “endless wars.” But it leaves many key details – including a lasting peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government, as well as the rights of women – for future negotiations. The deal – which followed a seven-day reduction in violence – is also expected to pave the way toward direct talks between Taliban officials and Afghan leaders in Oslo next month, according to Bloomberg.

Barring complications, US troop levels are expected to decline to about 8,600 within 135 days, with all troops being withdrawn within 14 months. Further declines depend on the Taliban fulfilling their agreement to engage in talks with Afghan officials and confront terrorists, according to U.S. officials.

In exchange for the initial U.S. troop drawdown, the Taliban pledge to sit down to peace negotiations with other Afghans to cut ties with all terrorist groups like al-Qaida – which the Taliban harbored ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks, prompting a US invasion and over 18 years of war, and prevent Afghan territories from becoming militant havens. Despite almost two decades of war and $900 billion in spending by the US, the Taliban are at their strongest since being ousted by American forces in late 2001, after the group refused to hand over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Speaking at a parallel ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani said: “All the people of Afghanistan are looking forward to a permanent peace.” He said that “today can be the moment of overcoming the past” and called for a moment of silence “in honour of our mutual fallen heroes”.

“The tragedy of 9/11 brought us together. Mutual sacrifice created human bonds between us. Mutual interest, your security and our freedom, sustains our relationship in mutual respect, which has made us partners”, he said.

Calling the relationship “transparent” he said: “NATO and US partners have spared neither blood nor treasure for attaining the goals of the partnership. We ask you to thank the veterans, especially the gold star families, for their service. Our sacrifice has been immense… children, youth in their prime, and men and women in all ages in all walks of life, whose lives have been taken away by senseless acts of violence in terror and public spaces.”

And he said: “We have the political will and the capacity to make peace because of the resilience of our society, the dynamism of our economy and the capability of our state.”

* * *

After over a year and a half of negotiations, details of the final agreement were finally released on Saturday, although there are annexes that will not be released, according to senior administration officials, who said they do not include any U.S. commitments, only enforcement mechanisms.

While many of the steps in the deal are conditioned on actions from both sides, there are some immediate impacts as the ink dries in Doha, Qatar, where chief U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, his deputy Molly Phee and their team have spent over a year and a half negotiating with the Taliban’s representatives.

A week-long deal to reduce violence will continue, as the US immediately begins to draw down its approximately 13,000 troops in Afghanistan to 8,600, according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other senior administration officials.  That withdrawal will take months to complete, but U.S. officials, including Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, have said that new number is still sufficient to carry out their mission.

Any withdrawal of U.S. forces beyond that is contingent on the Taliban meeting its commitments, according to the deal.

There is “an aspirational timeline for withdrawal that is entirely conditions-based, and it will depend on their performance as we judge their performance,” a senior administration official said. Explicitly, withdrawal is tied to the Taliban meeting its counterterrorism commitments – to repudiate al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and take steps to demonstrate that.

“People are concerned about the historic relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaida. We think think this is a decisive and historic first step in terms of their public acknowledgement that they are breaking ties with al-Qaida,” a senior administration official told ABC News.

There will be verification mechanisms in place to ensure that happens, the official added, including “our military and other asset presence on the ground.” In exchange, they said, the U.S. will eventually start to deconstruct the “edifice” of economic and diplomatic pressure like sanctions.

But any further U.S. troop reduction is also tied to the Taliban’s behavior in Afghan peace negotiations, according to the senior officials, although it is not dependent on any particular outcome of that process.

“If the political settlement fails, if the talks fail, there is nothing that obliges the United States to withdraw troops,” said a second senior administration official, before adding that President Donald Trump still has the “prerogatives as commander-in-chief” to withdraw U.S. forces as he sees fit.

Aiming for March 10, those peace negotiations will bring together the Taliban and representatives of Afghanistan, including government officials, civil society leaders and women, the senior officials said, to determine the future Afghan government and a “road map” for the country. But government officials will attend in a “private” capacity, as the Taliban still refuses to recognize the government or the constitution — a concession that has angered many Afghan officials.

Esper is in Kabul to sign a joint declaration with President Ashraf Ghani and his rival and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah to reassert US support for the Afghan government and commit Ghani, Abdullah, their supporters and others to backing the next steps. Expected to take place in Oslo, Norway, the negotiations will be facilitated by the U.S., along with the United Nations, Norway, Germany, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, among others, the first senior official said.

Both senior officials cautioned those talks could be delayed, especially as post-election fighting between Ghani and Abdullah continues. Khalilzad will return to Kabul after the signing ceremony to push them to select an inclusive delegation to the negotiations, but it may prove difficult as Abdullah continues to claim to have won the presidency, five months after the votes were cast and 11 days after Ghani was declared the winner despite concerns over the count.

U.S. military commanders long ago assessed that the war would be unwinnable absent the presence of tens of thousands of more troops and a broad political accord. At its peak the U.S. had over 100,000 troops based in Afghanistan, but peace remained elusive in a country long known as the “graveyard of empires.”

More than two decades before U.S. forces arrived, Afghans had to contend with the Soviet Union’s invasion, a searing experience that led to a humiliating defeat for Moscow. As the Taliban consolidated power in the late 1990s, they became known for enforcing an extreme version of fundamentalist Islam that denied girls the right to an education and banned women from working.

* * *

Ahead of the signing of the Doha deal, U.S. officials described the agreement as the beginning of an effort to reach a broader political solution to a war that has spanned three U.S. presidencies and killed or injured more than 100,000 Afghans over the past decade alone, while costing the lives of over 2,400 American troops. Even as Taliban and U.S.-backed Afghan forces have fought to a stalemate, Islamic State terrorists gained a foothold in the country.

“Everyone is tired of war,” said Masood Mahfuz, a 42-year-old Afghan whose brother was killed in a Taliban bombing three years ago. “We are thirsty for peace. The only way is to make peace with the Taliban and forget the past.”

The signing ceremony Saturday came only after a week-long truce to reduce violence across the country was deemed successful. The Taliban agreed not to undertake major attacks, while the U.S. and Afghan security forces pledged to hold any airstrikes or raids on Taliban facilities, according to the second senior official, who said the reduction showed the Taliban had “both the commitment and the capability to enforce” that kind of truce.

With the deal signed, there will be a further reduction of violence, the first senior official said, that is supposed to last as the Afghan peace negotiations take place. Both senior administration officials said the U.S. will push the parties to extend that reduction into a complete ceasefire across the country as quickly as possible — and for the protection of women’s and minorities’ rights, which critics say should have been a precondition all along.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday, “Our mission set there has been much broader than that,” later adding “the Afghans will drive the solution,” including on women’s rights. Senior officials have said the U.S. will use its financial assistance as leverage to ensure those protections make it into the new government.

Source: “Momentous Day”: US, Taliban Sign Peace Deal To End 18 Year War

Obama Is Earning More Than Any Former President & Costing Taxpayers, The Most | DC Dirty Laundry

POSTED BY: DEAN JAMES

From 

Opinion| Mark Sidney| If there is one thing to be said for socialists, it is that they are very generous … with YOUR MONEY.

For illustration of this point, we need to look no further than Mr. ‘fundamentally transforming the United States of America’ himself, Barack Hussein Obama.

While much of Obama’s history is still unknown to us ‘little people’, one thing we do know about Barry is how much he is costing taxpayers and how much he is making (on the books.)

Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent turned reporter/radio host and now proprietor of the Trump friendly version of ‘The Drudge Report’, ‘The Bongino Report’, is exposing Obama’s love for money … our money in particulars.

Bongino reported: ‘Following in the footsteps of the Clintons, the Obamas have struck gold in monetizing the presidency. From 2005-2016 the Obamas earned a total of $20.5 million, most of which ($15.6 million) were from books Barack authored before taking office, and the rest from his presidential salary and investment income.

Quickly after leaving office Obama joined the speaking circuit, which had earned the Clintons before him $153 million. The year Obama left office he became one of the ten highest paid public speakers in America, bringing in a cool $1.2 million from three Wall Street Speeches. Michelle began commanding fees of $225k per speech.

Then came the $65 million deal with Penguin Random House for two standalone books from the duo. Since that $65 million represents a cash advance, it’s the least the two will make from their books.

Adding even more to their cash pile, the two scored a deal with Netflix estimated to be worth $50 million last year.

They’ve upgraded their lifestyles quite a bit with the cash in hand. In 2017 they purchased an 8,200 square foot mansion in Washington D.C. for $8.1 million – the second most expensive home in the neighborhood after Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. This year the two are shelling out $14.8 million for a 7000 square foot, 29 acre beach side property in Martha’s Vineyard (I guess they’re not too concerned about rising sea levels).

It took the Clintons nearly two decades to earn $153 million from the presidency. The Obama’s booked over $115 million in two years, putting them on track to profit more from the presidency than any other. And while they’re making money hand over fist, the taxpayer is still subsidizing them more than any other former president.

Last year the Obamas cost the U.S. taxpayer $1,153,000 according to the Congressional Research Service, more than George H.W. Bush ($942k) and Jimmy Carter ($456k). The biggest expense for former presidents is office space. Obama’s 8,198 square foot office in Washington D.C. cost taxpayers $536k last year, the most of any former President. Clinton’s cots $518,000 (with 8,300 square feet), and Carters costs $518k. W. and H.W.’s offices cost $497k and $286k respectively, while Carters costs only $115k.

Obama also has the fattest pension of any former president at $236k, slightly higher than Clinton ($231k) and the younger Bush (225k).

This year the Obamas will cost the taxpayer $1,176,000, with the following breakdown of costs (note that all figures are in thousands). Secret Service costs are not included in any calculations, because that information is classified (but obviously add to the overall cost).’

For those of you who are still of a leftist mindset, do you not see that your ‘leaders’ are the most ruthless, the most selfish, the most criminal of all of the tyrants in Washington? Do not get me wrong, the Republicans have tons of their own problems, but Obama takes greed and hypocrisy to a whole new level.

I am not a big Jimmy Carter fan, when we are talking about his political beliefs, or his presidency, however, as a man, Mr/. Carter seems like a decent person. He does not appear too be fleecing tax payers, he is not spending even half of the other’s had.

Obama’s God complex needs top be put into check, ideally via an indictment, and soon.

This article originally appeared at We Are Biased OPINION Blog and was republished with permission.

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Dean James at Right Wing Tribune

God Bless.

Source: Obama Is Earning More Than Any Former President & Costing Taxpayers, The Most

LIVE FROM HONG KONG: To Date in 2020, Influenza (the Flu) Accounts for More Than 50 Times the Number of Deaths as the Coronavirus in Hong Kong — The Gateway Pundit

More than a month after Hong Kong reacted to the coronavirus and closed its border to neighboring China, the overall damage of the virus is not nearly as severe as originally feared, and compared to the common flu, it is minuscule.

As reported yesterday:

News of the coronavirus reached Hong Kong and the world in early January.  Hong Kong citizens were curious at first and then almost hyper-reactive. The Wuhan coronavirus was a big unknown and still is.  Hong Kong did very little at first other than observe the actions of the Chinese government in Hubei in response to the newly discovered coronavirus.

By the end of January right before the Chinese New Year, the government of China took the unprecedented move and shut everything down in Hubei Province in China. Road blocks were erected and people were forced to stay home in Hubei Province. After the Monday and Tuesday holidays, all businesses were shut down in Hong Kong and throughout China.

Schools were closed until the end of February in Hong Kong and the following week businesses opened but with the option to work from home. Most companies followed the Hong Kong government’s practices with civil servants and kept their employees home.  This has continued throughout the month of February and schools in Hong Kong next announced they would be closed till mid-March and then until April 20th.

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas on earth with a population of around 8 million people. As of this morning there are 94 coronavirus cases confirmed and two deaths in Hong Kong. The percent of confirmed cases to total population is minuscule at 0.001%. Deaths as a percent of the population are thus far at 2 deaths in 8 million.

China has a population of around 1.4 billion. The number of coronavirus confirmed cases stands at 79,251 with around 2,700 confirmed deaths. The percent of confirmed cases to the population is also minuscule at 0.0056%. Deaths as a percent of the population are basically nil. These numbers are based on reported cases which may or may not be accurate.

The US has reported 64 confirmed cases to date of the coronavirus and no fatalities. With 350 million Americans the number of confirmed cases is also at amounts almost nil with no deaths.

Since the beginning of the year the flu in Hong Kong has been much more consequential than the coronavirus:

The Centre for Health Protection announced today that the winter flu season has ended. During this period, 113 adults died of influenza and no deaths from children were recorded. The Centre reminds the public that although the winter flu peak period has ended, citizens should continue to maintain personal and environmental hygiene to prevent respiratory diseases.

We know that the flu kills thousands in the US each year:

So far, the new coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, has led to more than 75,000 illnesses and 2,000 deaths, primarily in mainland China. But that’s nothing compared with the flu, also called influenza. In the U.S. alone, the flu has already caused an estimated 26 million illnesses, 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of course, the MSM will continue to parrot Democrat talking points that the coronavirus is the worst crisis since World War II.  The data simply doesn’t show this and to date the common flu is much, much more deadly.

via LIVE FROM HONG KONG: To Date in 2020, Influenza (the Flu) Accounts for More Than 50 Times the Number of Deaths as the Coronavirus in Hong Kong — The Gateway Pundit

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 02/29/2020

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